The Economic Cook: do-it-yourself Valentine’s Day dinner for two for less than $11
Valentine’s Day for me usually equals me eating out on my own dime, but my weekly grocery budget is not allowing it this year. Fortunately one of my favorite dishes is inexpensive to make at home. Spaghetti is the perfect Valentine’s Day dish. Who can forget that iconic kiss in Disney’s “The Lady and the Tramp” over a plate of spaghetti and meatballs? Frankly I like a little spice in my romance, so this holiday, I will be making a spicy spaghetti inspired by one of my favorite Thai restaurants in Birmingham, Alabama.
Spicy Spaghetti with Garlic Bread
1 16 ounce can of oregano and basil tomato sauce $1
1 large chicken breast, sliced in ¼ inch strips $2.43
1 package of salad shrimp $1.79
1 medium white onion
2 garlic cloves diced
½ green and red bell pepper sliced, deseeded
1 cup of fresh green beans $1
Spaghetti noodles $0.99
2 tablespoons of crushed red pepper
1 tablespoon of cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons of olive oil
Cost to make- $7.18
- Coat saute pan with olive oil, then on a medium high heat, cook chicken thoroughly.
- Add onions and garlic, cook until onions are translucent.
- Add bell peppers, green beans, sauce, and spices. Reduce heat to simmer. Cook until vegetables are soft. Add shrimp.
- For noodles, bring water to a boil in a separate pot and add a tablespoon of olive oil to prevent noodles from sticking together.
- Once water is boiling, add noodles, cover the pot, and then cut off the heat. Wait until the pot has cooled slightly before checking noodles. This should cook them to the appropriate texture in about ten minutes.
- Serve with garlic bread (you can find a loaf of garlic bread in the freezer aisle for about $1)
Valentine’s Day dinner is not complete without dessert. Here are three options to celebrate your type of romance:
Poor Man’s Crème Brûlée (for romance with a kiss of desire on the lips)
Instant French vanilla pudding $1.15
Strawberries sliced (since strawberries are not in season, I recommend frozen strawberries. They are usually frozen at their peak and cost less.) $1
Dark chocolate bar $1
Cost to make: 3.15
- Prepare pudding as instructed.
- Turn on oven broil.
- Ladle pudding into two ramekins (a small ceramic or glass bowl that is oven safe) and coat top with brown sugar.
- Broil until sugar caramelizes.
- Place in fridge for ten minutes to set.
- Slice strawberries on top and use a grater to shave dark chocolate on top.
Black Hearted Red Velvet Cupcakes (for Valentine’s Day cynics with a sweet tooth)
1 package of red velvet cupcake mix $1
1 package of cupcake tins $0.89
1 cup of milk or water
½ cup of vegetable oil
1 dark chocolate bar
Cost to make: $1.89
- Make cupcakes according to direction on mix box and let cool.
- Either using something heart-shaped or by free hand, cut into the center of the cupcakes.
- Break chocolate bar into a bowl and melt in increments of ten seconds in the microwave. Be careful not to burn chocolate.
- Pour melted chocolate into cut out cupcakes (if this is too messy, create a pastry bag by cutting a small piece of the corner off a sandwich bag) and let cool.
White Hearted Red Velvet Cupcakes (for romance that is purest and sweetest)
Same as previous recipe except cream cheese icing instead of chocolate $1.15
The directions are the same as previous recipe. There is no need to microwave the icing.
On average, Americans spend $126 on Valentine’s Day. Save some money and do dinner yourself this year.